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I was going through this amazing post here at TGO which talks of trekking solo. As far as I know of TGO culture, this question here might sound a really opinion-based question, or rather a too broad kind to have a concrete answer, but I would rather take up a chance to post it outright.

I have trekked solo a hundred times, and I do have had close shaves on a rare occasions where a single mistake could put me in deep trouble. Having said this, I also have had times in wilderness, so good and close that I would never be able to have such when within a group. And, regularly, when I get back home, people who are really concerned, ask me if its really worth going alone, and I realize that I should have a line drawn in mind that decides on which side I am, to go or not to go.

I believe a little work with Pros and Cons over this point can really bring about factors in deciding whether to go solo or not. On a safer side, a rookie hiker/trekker would certainly pick the things he/she might need to consider when deciding upon the same.

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I think there are several factors to consider when traveling alone.

Pros

  • You can set your own pace. For me this is one of the main reasons to hike alone. When with other people they often want to go faster than you and you end up breaking yourself trying to keep up or are slower/less confident and you have to slow down/not do those 'interesting' scrambles you would want to.

  • More flexible. Similarly when on your own you don't have to worry about what other people want. If you decide you want to take a detour or break you can if you want to push on to the next campsite you don't have to worry if anyone else is exhausted.

  • More peaceful. Being on your own also gives you more time to think about things and admire the beauty of you surroundings without having to worry about being sociable.

  • Easier logistics. If all your friends are busy (or you have no friends) you can either hike on your own or not at all.

Cons

  • Less support in case of injury. This is one the most commonly cited disadvantages. If you fall/trip/do something stupid and do yourself a serious injury you have no one else to help you. How serious an issue this is will depend on your situation. For injuries where you can walk out it doesn't really matter if you are alone as long as you have a decent first aid kit and can treat yourself. For more serious injuries it depends on location. If you are in heavily trafficked areas where there are almost always people around then its not so much a problem as hopefully a passer-by will assist you. On the other hand if you are in a back-country trail which sees one group per week or less then anything which stops you walking could kill you.

  • Greater risk from wildlife/humans. Depending on where you are hiking there may be dangerous wildlife or risks from other people. In general these risks will be greater when traveling alone. Dangerous animals will view a single person as easier prey than a group, and a group of people will often make enough noise to scare away any nearby animals anyway.

  • Heavier pack. Many pieces of equipment don't scale directly with number of people. E.g. you only need one stove and tent if there are one or two people. This means if you travel alone your pack will probably be slightly heavier although this is a minor concern.

  • Can be lonely. Being on your own all day can be very lonely particularly at mealtimes/evenings when you would normally chat with the rest of the group this can leave you with little to do particularly once it gets dark. This may or may not be an issue depending on your personality.

To decide whether you are comfortable hiking alone you must decide whether the pros out way the cons. The main cons being increased severity of issues caused by any injuries and higher risk of attack by animals etc. The risk caused by injuries will depend on where you are going and how careful you are. Generally one does not break their leg walking. If you don't have an injury the fact that you would be screwed if you do doesn't matter. Having said that accidents happen so you should always consider whats the worst that can happen.

  • 1
    Many pieces of equipment don't scale: The tent (an extra 500g for a solo vs half a 2-person tent tops). The stove (That can be as low as 10g, so not much of a big deal.) I wouldn't say many. +1 on the injury part, to me that's the biggest point. – njzk2 Aug 14 '15 at 15:02
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    I don't think the tent weight is much of an issue these days - you can get a 750 gram solo tarp-tent from a number of cottage suppliers. As for injury, you can carry a PLB now in most countries, which makes a huge difference. I trek solo a lot in remote country and feel a lot safer now I can call in the rescue with the press of a button. – Tullochgorum May 20 '16 at 10:59
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Pros:

  • The ultimate freedom – from where to camp to pace, breaks or even
    where to go, it is all up to you
  • There is a lot more room in the tent and you can spread your things everywhere
  • No one makes stupid navigation errors and argues about it with you (unless it is you...)
  • When you are camping, you can just read a book, or look at the sunset or just lay down, no need to entertain anyone else
  • Other walkers and locals will be so happy to chat with and share a good story or a cup of tea
  • It is only your farts in the tent!

Cons:

  • If you made a mistake it is all on you (from responsibility to the danger)
  • You might get lonely, especially on longer trips
  • No one is there to look at that amazing sunset with you
  • Camping becomes too practical; it is all about doing things efficiently
  • When you had enough or the climb is really endless, no one is there to give you a boost
  • You have to carry everything

That will be my half hearted addition to the pros and cons.

At the end of the day, it is what you feel like - I like hiking and camping alone, my wife doesn't. Simple.

  • You have to carry everything what do you not carry when other people are with you? – njzk2 Aug 14 '15 at 15:03
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    When hiking/camping socially you can share the load, usually reducing the personal load you have - a 3 people tent split between 3 tends to be lighter than a lightweight 1 person tent. Cooking and food is the same, first aid kit, etc. – Gilad Nachmani Aug 18 '15 at 14:38
  • sharing food does not mean you need less. a first aid kit is very light. Cooking for 1 requires very little stuff, while cooking for 3+ requires a dedicated large pot and a big enough burner, if people want to eat together. I feel it really boils down to only the tent. – njzk2 Aug 18 '15 at 14:53

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